College football recruiting index: Is it time to panic at Michigan, Ole Miss, Florida State

There are still more than four months until the early signing period. And as we know when it comes to recruiting, a lot can happen in a week or two let alone four months.

With that much time remaining, it’s not too late for your program to elevate its class if it’s not ranked as well as you envisioned at this point. However, it’s starting to get late much earlier for some programs.

So with June and July — the two busiest months to date in this cycle — in the rearview mirror, The Athletic has decided to unveil a recruiting panic index. In this space, we’ll check in and examine just how worried some programs should be.


Panic level: Trust in the portal

Ole Miss, UCLA

The transfer portal has offered programs an alternative route to roster building. Ole Miss and UCLA have been two of the most aggressive believers in that method and have utilized the portal to fill major holes in the offseason. The Rebels ranked second in the 247Sports team transfer rankings, and the Bruins checked in at No. 8. Ole Miss signed 18 high school recruits and 17 transfers while UCLA brought in 11 high school signees and 13 transfers.

Ole Miss did just put together a strong week on the recruiting trail, landing commitments from four players, including four-star edge rushers Jamarious Brown and Neeo Avery, but its class ranks just 57th nationally and 12th in the SEC — ahead of only two teams we’ll discuss soon. Lane Kiffin came to Oxford with a reputation as an elite recruiter — and his first full recruiting class ranked 17th nationally — but last year’s class checked in at 27th overall and 12th in the SEC.

Chip Kelly did not come to UCLA with the reputation as a dynamic recruiter and that’s played out accordingly. The Pac-12 was in a massive state of coaching transition last year, but the Bruins recruiting class ranked only 65th nationally. UCLA has a couple of blue-chip commitments this cycle, headlined by four-star running back Roderick Robinson II, but it has only six commitments in a class that ranks 71st nationally and 10th in the Pac-12. That’s not encouraging since this group and last year’s class will be sophomores and juniors, respectively, when the Bruins enter the Big Ten in 2024.

Kiffin and Kelly have quickly adapted to new roster-building methods, but both programs need to recruit the high school ranks better. Their work in the portal has offset some of the recruiting concerns for now, but is that sustainable in the long term?

Author: Lucy Green